Understanding keyword search volume is critical for engaging in meaningful keyword research, but many people misunderstand it.
Appropriate and properly implemented keyword research is a critical component of our expert link building services.
We hope this post on keyword search volume will help you understand the topic better and use the tools so you can reliably predict which keywords will drive more traffic to your site and produce more engagement and sales.
Keyword search volume refers to how many searches for a specific keyword phrase on a search engine over a specific time period. The major use of keyword search volume is to learn about vital SEO information, including:
There are countless tools on the market that estimate keyword search volume. Here we have chosen to discuss only three.
The most common is by using what Google says about itself with its Keyword Planner tool. Note:
The Keyword Planner tells you the average search volume, which means the average for the last year of search volume. This means the figure they give you isn’t for the entire previous month; instead, it’s the total search volume for the last 12 months divided by 12.
It’s also important to know this tool doesn’t tell you whether the data is for mobile or desktop applications. Instead, the numbers Google tells you are estimates by adding volumes for various devices and search methods.
For instance, Keyword Planner may show search volume for ‘HDMI’ and ‘high-definition multimedia interface’ as the same. But we know – logically – that more people search by the acronym; many searchers don’t even know what HDMI stands for.
This shows the limits of the Keyword Planner, so bear this in mind.
I regularly check Ahrefs Keywords Explorer for determining the volume and difficulty of various keywords as well as the PPC cost for bidding on them:
In this example you can see a comparison of the following as it relates to various digital marketing related keywords:
This data can be very helpful when comparing your site or a client’s site when looking for keywords to target and how competitive they might be for ranking.
The other primary source to find search volume data is clickstream data. This information is gleaned from a sampling of users; it’s often provided from one of many browser extensions that searchers install themselves.
Some companies swear by clickstream data but remember it’s also an estimate. Accuracy hinges on the number and kinds of users polled. Also critical are the polling methodology and the method used to arrive at the forecast.
Here’s how clickstream data can augment or even beat Google’s Keyword Planner:
But remember, volume estimates offered here are only as good as where the data comes from and the methods used.
As we noted several times above, the search volume data you see with Keyword Planner, Keywords Explorer and clickstream data are just estimates, and there is plenty of extrapolation going on that can throw the data off.
But estimated search volume information can be helpful to your company. You don’t need to have precise, real-world search volume data to make valid comparisons between various keyword phrases.
As long as the estimates are pulled from the same sources with the same methodology, you should make solid business decisions on the information.
Some might think that low-volume keyword phrases aren’t worth their time. This is wrong!
The idea that a low-traffic keyword phrase doesn’t lead to visitors and sales doesn’t play out in the real world.
First, it’s a misconception that your search traffic depends on volume. And keywords with a lower search volume can be vital for creating compelling content.
This is why we heavily advocate for targeting long-tail keywords in your SEO campaigns.
A topic cluster usually has a ‘pillar’ page that targets the high-volume keyword phrase for a relevant topic on a website. Then, many related content pages link to the pillar page that detail subtopics.
If you do it right, the topic clustering method can generate substantial results because it tells Google you have an authoritative site on the pillar page topic, and you’ve written a lot about it.
Google will probably send searchers to websites that cover the user’s related content needs. For example, lower-volume keyword phrases related to the pillar page may be fantastic content ideas to write about the larger topic.
Low-volume keyword phrases may also be longer-tail keywords, which means they relate to more specific topics than the larger term.
What this means: Pages written for a long-tail keyword may not drive high traffic volume, by the do a couple of crucial things for your site:
The other time lower-volume keyword phrases can be vital to your site traffic is in industries with low search volume.
SEO companies usually focus on optimizations that produce a massive surge in traffic. But some many industries and companies do well with lower-volume keyword traffic.
But the Keyword Planner may completely ignore lower-volume keywords, so SEO types in niche industries may need to use highly advanced keyword tools that rely on specialized sources to calculate search volume.
In short, when you can’t rank for competitive keywords, go where competitors aren’t.
Search volume is a vital metric to measure potent keyword research. But you should remember that search volume metrics present an incomplete picture, so you may need to do more research to arrive at an accurate assessment.
If you grasp the many details that influence keyword search volume, you’ll be more effective as you conduct your keyword research.